1 2 3
Woody
Woody MegaDork
4/6/16 8:58 p.m.

I've always liked E46 BMWs, but I've never owned one. My dream E46 would be a rear wheel drive, four door sedan with a stick. But right now, I need an all wheel drive wagon with an automatic.

In the middle of my Volvo V70R thread, https://grassrootsmotorsports.com/forum/grm/why-exactly-wouldnt-a-volvo-v70r-be-the-perfect-car-for-me-talk-me-down/116858/page1/ GPS suggested an E46 wagon. Which brings me here...

I have literally never paid any attention to either the AWD systems or the automatic transmissions. What do I need to know about them?

rslifkin
rslifkin HalfDork
4/6/16 9:02 p.m.

Automatic AWD wagon means 325. Which means it's slow. And heavy in E46 terms.

What necessitates the more complex, heavier AWD version?

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture PowerDork
4/6/16 9:05 p.m.

The AWD models have a different front suspension and subframe design than the RWD ones; the geometry isn't as great but they are still decent to drive. The good news is that the AWD models don't have the notorious rear subframe mount tearing issues and they all have the significantly more robust GM automatic transmissions. Just make sure to change the transfer case fluid like you're supposed to; that seems to be what kills the auto xi cars. Otherwise, standard BMW warnings apply (do the cooling system, the CCV will eventually clog, oil filter housing gasket, yadda yadda).

Huckleberry
Huckleberry MegaDork
4/6/16 9:47 p.m.

Make sure you get a ZF auto trans, not the GM one. It is much quicker shifting, smarter about selection and long lived.

It only takes 20 minutes to change a front axle and they are $90 each at autozone with a warranty. If the boots are torn use it to get a better price and just change the whole thing.

The same cooling system issues apply to this as the E36 only the E46 auto has a more complicated labyrinth of hoses and connectors. It's not really a big deal but plan your day around the refresh.

The 325XiT is "slow" but it will outpace any E36 325 and cruise at a buck twenty all day so... slow is relative. It will also crush a 2015 Outback in any contest of speed or handling you can devise. It's also got a better AWD system and can be driven like a rally car in foul weather.

The rear subframe mount point is prone to cracking due to fatigue if the bushings were driven very long when shot. Check it.

Mine seized the PS pump at 140k. Google says it's not uncommon for a certain batch of the OEMs. The repair was easy but the "while you are in there" list was not. I replaced every stinkin' PS hose, o-ring, reservoir, and crush washer.

If the intake boot is original then that is why the yellow light is on and it's screaming about lean conditions.

If it screams about a misfire - it's a coil pack.

If it runs rough you need to change the plugs and check the flapper valve inside the intake that makes the runners short/long at different RPMs. Sometimes you can fix it by giving it a good cleaning and lube. Sometimes the flapper comes loose and you can fix it by re-attaching it securely. I hear some people need to buy a new one. They are $275. Mine has been fine. I needed spark plugs. And a motor mount.

The secondary air pump hoses and valve get coked up and will throw a code. If you clean it good and replace the hose you won't need to buy a new pump motor but most shops will try to sell you one.

The rear glass opens separate from the door itself like a proper wagon should. That alone is reason to choose it over all others.

Inline sixes make better noise than turbo 5s (and a lot of V8s too).

Woody
Woody MegaDork
4/6/16 10:06 p.m.

In reply to Huckleberry:

How do I determine if it has the ZF transmission or the GM?

dyintorace
dyintorace UberDork
4/7/16 5:54 a.m.

From an availability perspective, how about including the e91 AWD wagon in your search? It seems like virtually all of those were AWD, as opposed to RWD. And they Ate pretty inexpensive these days, at least down here in the south.

1kris06
1kris06 Reader
4/7/16 6:15 a.m.
dyintorace wrote: From an availability perspective, how about including the e91 AWD wagon in your search? It seems like virtually all of those were AWD, as opposed to RWD. And they Ate pretty inexpensive these days, at least down here in the south.

+1

From my time searching for an e46, wagons command a premium. Even worse are manual wagons.

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture PowerDork
4/7/16 7:59 a.m.
Woody wrote: In reply to Huckleberry: How do I determine if it has the ZF transmission or the GM?

From everything I can find ALL AWD E46s have the GM A5S390R (5L40E) transmission with a transfer case bolted to it. RWD ones could have come with either depending on the year.

The ZF box is known for some issues of its own, though...the GM isn't nearly as sophisticated but it also doesn't take unicorn piss fluid and your local trans shop will probably know how to rebuild one if you ever need it.

 photo tranny.jpg Z suffix is a ZF transmission, R suffix is a GM transmission.

rslifkin
rslifkin HalfDork
4/7/16 8:06 a.m.

IIRC, it was mostly the early GM boxes (marked as A5S360R in the chart) that were the ones known for issues. I've never heard any particular whining about the later ones, so I'm guessing they're similar to the ZF in reliability.

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture PowerDork
4/7/16 8:33 a.m.

In reply to rslifkin:

The early GM transmissions tended to have valve body-related failures, while the ZF transmissions had reverse drum failures. The later GM transmissions carry a pretty good reputation.

(Disclaimer: I've never owned an AWD E46 but did a fair amount of service on my father's RWD E39 with the GM transmission and have owned an E39 and E46 myself, so I'm relatively well-versed in these issues. My dad's E39 with the GM box was going strong at 245k on the original trans when it was T-boned by a Ford truck, if that makes any difference.)

dyintorace
dyintorace UberDork
4/7/16 8:53 a.m.

I know this is not an auto transmission car, but I had to share it! I think this exterior color is named Barbera Red. Paired with an Imola Red interior!

http://orlando.craigslist.org/ctd/5512337854.html

Duke
Duke MegaDork
4/7/16 9:04 a.m.
pointofdeparture wrote: The good news is that the AWD models... all have the significantly more robust GM automatic transmissions.
Huckleberry wrote: Make sure you get a ZF auto trans, not the GM one. It is much quicker shifting, smarter about selection and long lived.

These would appear to be conflicting statements. This thread is relevant to my interests, because I'm considering a decently-maintained auto 2001 325xi for DD#2.

pointofdeparture
pointofdeparture PowerDork
4/7/16 9:16 a.m.

In reply to Duke:

See the chart I posted above. At least according to BMW service literature, the XI (AWD) cars only ever received GM transmissions. There was a class action lawsuit against BMW over the ZF due to reverse drum failure (check out noreverse.org), though they are much more modern and sophisticated transmissions otherwise.

Aspen
Aspen Reader
4/7/16 9:58 a.m.

I went with the E91 vs the e46, because newer and more power. The e91s were plentiful in my search, while the e46s were rare or had huge mileage.

The hatch area is not really very big at all and the cargo cover/dog barrier takes up lots of space. Make sure your dog will fit. For comparison the rubber trunk mat that I have for my 1997 Impreza is slightly too large for the trunk of the E91. The rear leg room is much better in the BMW though.

You will likely find that over half of the wagons have a broken rear wiper. This can often be fixed by replacing the pivot that resides in the hatch glass for about $100. Sometimes it can be cleaned and lubed to fix it. If you are unlucky the wiper motor is dead too caused by the failed pivot and that gets pricey. Test the wiper function before you buy and bargain accordingly.

Harvey
Harvey Dork
4/7/16 10:07 a.m.

Go for an E91 wagon. The E9X AWD is better than the E46 AWD. Also probably easier to find.

Harvey
Harvey Dork
4/7/16 10:13 a.m.

Lots of these floating around. The 328 has decent power too.

http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?zip=06484&endYear=2017&vehicleStyleCodes=WAGON&modelCode1=3_SERIES&showcaseOwnerId=4395561&makeCode1=BMW&startYear=1981&firstRecord=0&searchRadius=50&maxPrice=20000&mmt=%5BBMW%5B%5D%5B3_SERIES%5B%5D%5D%5D&listingId=422836216&Log=0

http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?zip=06484&endYear=2017&vehicleStyleCodes=WAGON&modelCode1=3_SERIES&showcaseOwnerId=4395561&makeCode1=BMW&startYear=1981&firstRecord=0&searchRadius=50&maxPrice=20000&mmt=%5BBMW%5B%5D%5B3_SERIES%5B%5D%5D%5D&listingId=420098087&Log=0

http://www.autotrader.com/cars-for-sale/vehicledetails.xhtml?zip=06484&endYear=2017&vehicleStyleCodes=WAGON&modelCode1=3_SERIES&showcaseOwnerId=4395561&makeCode1=BMW&startYear=1981&firstRecord=0&searchRadius=50&maxPrice=20000&mmt=%5BBMW%5B%5D%5B3_SERIES%5B%5D%5D%5D&listingId=419386358&Log=0

The 328 of this generation basically has the power of the 330i from the E46 generation, 230hp or so.

Aspen
Aspen Reader
4/7/16 10:16 a.m.

Here is an e46 unicorn if any is interested,

Manual, awd, wagon with M package, low KMs

westsidetalon
westsidetalon Reader
4/7/16 10:37 a.m.
rslifkin wrote: Automatic AWD wagon means 325. Which means it's slow. And heavy in E46 terms. What necessitates the more complex, heavier AWD version?

^ this I just sold my e46 wagon and got a e91 wagon and it is such a nice improvement, WAY better brakes and acceleration. Although I am in the, you buy a BMW for RWD camp (snow tires in winter). I did once drive a e46 awd and it felt like a BOAT that couldn't get out of its own way SLOW! My first auto e46 was a Ci Coupe that had the "no reverse" problem( wouldnt go into reverse once a month on average). My E46 wagon was a 2003 with the later auto and had no problems. I believe the early 99-01 autos had the no reverse problems.

Woody
Woody MegaDork
4/7/16 1:46 p.m.
dyintorace wrote: I know this is not an auto transmission car, but I had to share it! I think this exterior color is named Barbera Red. Paired with an Imola Red interior! http://orlando.craigslist.org/ctd/5512337854.html

Wow, I need to write down the names of those colors in case I ever hit the lottery and order a new BMW.

SEADave
SEADave HalfDork
4/7/16 2:12 p.m.

I'm a long-term Volvo guy, my first car was a Volvo and I've had many over the years. That said, I would take a chance on an AWD E46 wagon over an AWD Volvo wagon.

Sorry I don't have anything to back that up with, but it just seems to me that more BMW's are owned by hands-on enthusiast owners so most of the issues are known and documented.

bigdaddylee82
bigdaddylee82 SuperDork
4/7/16 3:31 p.m.

The E9X is only turbo if it's a 335 right? Was there a 330 equivalent wagon in either e46 or e91 awd or not?

rslifkin
rslifkin HalfDork
4/7/16 3:32 p.m.
bigdaddylee82 wrote: The E9X is only turbo if it's a 335 right? Was there a 330 equivalent wagon in either e46 or e91 awd or not?

Correct. And I'm not sure about the E91, but the US market only got the E46 325 wagon. Bigger engines were sedan / coupe only.

Tyler H
Tyler H SuperDork
4/7/16 3:58 p.m.

Any E46 is prone to rear subframe cracking. I took this picture last weekend. You can't really tell if it's cracked just by looking unless it is really bad, even if you drop the subframe some. This crack was almost invisible until I ground off some paint. Luckily I just had one crack starting, and it was on the left rear, which typically doesn't crack -- usually starts with the LF. I'm going to do a build thread on E46 subframe repair.

Picture of E46 subframe crack

Woody
Woody MegaDork
4/7/16 5:41 p.m.

In reply to Harvey:

Nice cars, but way beyond my financial comfort zone.

Aspen
Aspen Reader
4/7/16 6:11 p.m.
rslifkin wrote:
bigdaddylee82 wrote: The E9X is only turbo if it's a 335 right? Was there a 330 equivalent wagon in either e46 or e91 awd or not?
Correct. And I'm not sure about the E91, but the US market only got the E46 325 wagon. Bigger engines were sedan / coupe only.

E91 got the 215HP motor in 2006, then 230HP 2008-2012. No turbo in N.A. Europe got an n53 DI with 280 HP which I would love to have.

For about $1500 or so you can upgrade to the 330i intake and map to achieve 260HP.

1 2 3
Our Preferred Partners
jYgCjHwJc25ZDnMI8xrDiSoBrdFexhGfi2yoQ17245cM6olNsqO7vEyXRnUK9W2d